A postnatal physio review can help you safely and smartly get back to doing the things you love. Read on to find out what a pelvic health physio can do for you!
Do you know how to safely get back to exercise, now that your bub is here? Here’s some tips to help you.
Every week, I meet pregnant ladies of all shapes and sizes. Some are glowing, and blossoming, and full of energy. Some are swollen and exhausted and aching, and feeling a little bit 'over' it all! Most, however, are a mixture of the two, depending on the day. Whichever best describes you, I'm sure you have days where you get home, and you are aching: hips, back, shoulders, knees, feet.... Your body is telling you it is tired, and needs to rest!
Lots of pregnant women end up at physios, chiros, massage therapists, or elsewhere, seeking relief for aches during pregnancy. For the women I see at bodyBEgood, there is one simple tip I like to give...
Ladies, the BEST thing you can put on your growing pregnant body, is:
a decent pair of shoes!
Yes, you might have gotten away with 6 inch stilettos for the last 10 years without any issues!
Yes, you might own ballet flats in every colour, and have never felt anything but joy when you wear them!
But right now, your poor, pregnant feet are at the bottom of the weight-bearing chain, and every day they deal with increasing pressure bearing down on them. Remember that hormone Relaxin that is pumping through your body, loosening your joints to help during labour? It doesn't stop at your pelvis - it has 'loosened' your feet too. Your feet are spreading, and stretching, and trying to carry you and your baby all day... They can't do it alone. They need support! They need love!
Giving your feet the love that they need, means the rest of your body will thank you! Decent footwear will support the feet, which in turn will support the rest of those aching body parts. Good footwear is vital throughout your pregnancy!
So, when you're looking for decent shoes to carry you through these many months, here's my tips:
Give yourself some room:
Your feet may feel longer and wider during pregnancy, and if that is the case, give them a bit of breathing space. Going up half a shoe size during pregnancy is sometimes necessary. Squeezing feet into shoes that feel too tight, is not doing your body any favours.
And, once your bundle of joy has arrived, our friends at The Running Company Ballarat recommend getting refitted prior to getting back into exercise, as your foot shape may remain altered.
Good support for your heel and arch
With the increasing weight your lovely feet have to carry, along with the increased laxity or 'looseness' through the foot, it is really important that you wear shoes with a good amount of support through the arch and heel. This support will decrease the ability of the foot to 'over-pronate', or roll in, which can put additional stress through the rest of the body.
And, whilst barefoot can feel lovely after a long day, try to minimise the time you spend walking barefoot too. Instead, keep a good pair of runners or other comfy, supportive shoes for use around the house.
Easy to get on/ofF
- For some pregnant ladies, the feet can be a loooooooong way down. Shoes that are easy to put on, and simple to kick off, can save you a lot of huffing and puffing and bending!
Avoid 'high' heels
When pregnant, your increasing tummy causes your centre of gravity to move forwards, and wearing high heels can further exacerbate this. This can put extra pressure on your hips, knees and lower back. A slight heel is going to give your foot better support, but try to minimise how often you need to pull out your fancier heels.
a few more tips...
- Elevate your feet is swelling is an issue (lie back on the couch when you get home, and stack your feet up on some pillows).
- Try to avoid standing for extended periods of time.
- Not all 'good, supportive shoes' have to be hideous either! There are some great companies out there making shoes that your feet will love, that you wont be embarrassed to wear. Check out Frankie 4 for great shoes that don't look like what your Granny has in the cupboard!
And finally, if your aches and pains hang around despite following this great advice, please come and see our fabulous physio team for more help. You can click here to book online!
bodyBEgood is Ballarat's newest (and best!) Physio-run Pilates studio. We provide Physiotherapy services, Clinical Pilates, and Pilates fitness classes, to every body, at every age.
Unlike some Pilates studios, we really love what we do. We pride ourselves on giving our clients the very best in Pilates and healthcare. Here's 5 reasons why you will love Pilates at bodyBEgood...
1. THE PHYSIO IS THE TEACHER
Our classes are taught by highly trained physiotherapists, with many years of experience - not only as physios, but also as Clinical Pilates instructors. You can be confident when you come to bodyBEgood, that your exercise class will be challenging and fun, but it will also be safe, and in line with the latest in sports and exercise science. There will be no ridiculous, unwarranted, back breaking, hamstring tearing, fish slapping workouts - just smart, effective and rewarding exercise.
2. OUR CLASS SIZES
Our classes are capped at a maximum of 6 people. This means that the Physio teaching the class can keep an eye on your technique, and your ability to do the exercises correctly and safely. We can make exercises harder or easier, depending on how you are coping. With this specialised attention, you will get so much more from your exercise class.
3. EFFICIENT EXERCISE
All exercises in our classes target multiple areas of the body at the same time, making Pilates a super efficient form of exercise! In the gym, for example, you might be working your upper arms in a bicep curl. In Pilates, our Bicep Curls (shown below) work your upper arms, your thighs, your core, and your back, all at the same time. So, with Pilates, you are getting so much more out of each and every repetition!
(I sometimes think this means we don't need to work out for as long, or as often, right....?!)
4. MINDFUL EXERCISE
Pilates demands concentration; it requires alignment of the mind with the body. To complete your exercises safely and effectively, you must be focused - concentrating on where and how you move your body. This mindful approach means that any of your daily stress gets forgotten at the studio door. You will leave your Pilates class feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready to tackle your day.
5. OUR STUDIO
Our glorious, light filled studio, is fitted with the very best in Pilates equipment, vibrant greenery, and a relaxing, fresh feel. Our clients love the peace, energy, and calm that comes with a class at bodyBEgood, and we hope you will love it too!
If you'd like to ask any questions about bodyBEgood, please email us at email@example.com, or call 5339 1401. We hope to see you in the studio soon!
Pelvic pain, also called Pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain, or PPGP, can be a real 'pain' during pregnancy. PPGP usually refers to pain felt in the area low down at your front, around your pubic bone, but it can also be used to describe pain felt around the vagina, or lower back.
Not all pregnant women will experience PPGP, and for those who do, it varies from slight discomfort, all the way up to an inability to weight-bear (think: crutches, bed rest, very frustrated, etc!).
We don't really know why some women end up with this annoying issue and others don't, but those super smart experts suggest you are more likely to end up with PPGP if you have:
- A history of back pain or pelvic pain
- Previous trauma to pelvis/back; or
- Previously had PPGP.
There's a few simple things you can do to help minimise your risk and/or reduce symptoms of PPGP. Have a read through these, and if you have any questions, please comment below!
1. Keep your knees together in bed.
No, this is not a sexual reference! Rolling over in bed is one activity that becomes a challenge for lots of women, sometimes very early in your pregnancy. This can be for several reasons, but one of them is often that it hurts around the pubic bone.
If you can manage to keep your knees gently pressed together when you roll over in bed, and when you get in/out of bed, you will put less 'stretching' load through the pubic joint, and likely experience less pain.
2. Try not to sit with your legs crossed.
Sitting with your legs crossed is a habit for so many of us, and a hard one to break too! However, many sufferers of PPGP will find sitting cross legged exacerbates their symptoms - it's best to get yourself out of the 'crossing legs' habit as early in your pregnancy as possible. Try to sit with your weight evenly balanced between both sides, and remember to change positions very regularly (ie dont sit for more than 15 minutes at a time).
3. Sit down to get dressed!
Yes, this might make you feel like you've turned into a little old lady... But before you dismiss this suggestion, consider that when you stand with your weight entirely on one leg, you've just doubled the load going through that side of your pelvis. In a pregnant state, the ligaments around your pelvis are already under greater stress, so don't overload them! Park your butt back on the bed, unload your legs, and get your knickers, pants and socks on in a much easier way! Your pelvis will thank you for it!
Try these simple tips to help lessen the load upon your pelvis, and let us know if they help!
If you find you are continuing to struggle with PPGP, you can click here to book an appointment with our Physio at bodyBEgood - there's lots more we can do to help.
One of the key things we mention in all of our classes at bodyBEgood, is 'your core'. You'll often hear me saying "switch on your core", or "activate your core", and you might think "Ok... But, um, how?"
When we talk about your core, we are referring to the area of your torso that is contained between the following parts:
- Your diaphragm (the big breathing muscle under your ribs) is the roof
- Your deep abdominals form the front wall
- Your deep back muscles, particularly Multifidus, form the back wall
- and your Pelvic Floor, of course, is the floor.
A strong & stable CORE supports your spine, pelvis, & internal organs. Good core = good you.
The main part of the core that we refer to in our Pilates classes, is the front part, the Deep Abdominals.
So how do you 'switch on this area'?
Your deep abdominal muscle is called Transversus Abdomens (T. A.), and it sits below your belly button, running sideways, This muscle is a very important part of your core.
The best way to ‘activate’ your T.A. is:
- Lie on your back, with your knees bent comfortably, and your feet on the floor.
- Using your fingertips, find those pointy hip bones at the front of your pelvis, then move your fingers towards the middle a few centimetres.
- Try and imagine that you are ‘drawing your hip bones towards each other’, so that you can feel the area between your hip bones gently tighten. You should feel a little change in tension under your fingertips. It is a gentle contraction, not a big ‘suck’.
- Try to keep your breathing regular, and keep your shoulders/neck/chest relaxed.
- Aim to hold that contraction for around 10 seconds, then let everything relax.
- It is a gentle, light effort exercise, that shouldn't involve any straining or sweating.
Keep practicing - this does get easier! Once you have mastered this basic core exercise, we can build on introducing strength work for the rest of the body!
The Pelvic Floor. We’ve all heard of it. We’ve all been told it is important. We all know that we should, at some stage, be doing ‘pelvic floor exercises’. But, do we actually know much more than that? Lots of the information that we get about the pelvic floor contains big words, and weird instructions, and leaves a lot of us feeling more confused than when we started.
Our bodyBEgood Pelvic Floor info is going to be blunt. We are going to spell it out for you in simple, every day terms, so that you can actually feel confident and happy that you
a) know what and where your pelvic floor is, and
b) know how to use and exercise your pelvic floor.
Some of our wording might sound crass at times, but we’d rather be crass than be misunderstood!
So… Your pelvic floor:
What is it?
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and other tissues that make up the floor of your core. Your ‘core’ is the common term for your torso, which has
A roof - your diaphragm (big breathing muscle),
Front wall - your deep abdominals/abs,
Back wall - your deep back muscles, particularly Multifidus,
- And a floor, the pelvic floor.
It is really important that all the parts of your core can work happily together, to ensure that you have a happy, healthy body. As most of us know, a problem with your core can lead to back pain, pelvic pain, and a whole host of other issues.
Role of the Pelvic Floor
Your pelvic floor has some really, really, really, important jobs:
Firstly, it helps support your internal organs. That is, your pelvic floor helps to stops your guts from falling out! If you haven't heard the word prolapse before (and you really don't want to hear it in relation to yourself), it means that an organ or part of the body has slipped down from where it is meant to be. A pelvic floor problem can end up as a prolapsed bowel, bladder or uterus… It’s a good idea for our internal organs to stay in their original positions, and a good pelvic floor allows this to happen!
The other really really really important job of the pelvic floor is to support your bladder so that you don't have problems with leaking - that is, peeing yourself, wetting your pants, losing control. It’s not a nice feeling to be out and about, having a laugh with some friends, and suddenly feel a warm wet trickle in your pants…
Thirdly, your pelvic floor is important if you want to have sex! For the sake of this article, we are going to presume you are a tired, grumpy, exhausted new Mum, who doesn't want to think about sex, so for now we will leave out this very important role of the pelvic floor!
OK, so we now know that
- Your pelvic floor is important.
- Your pelvic floor is part of your core.
- And your pelvic floor is a group of muscles and other tissues.
What else do we need to know?
Where is your pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor attaches at the front to your pubic bone (this is the hard bit of bone that you can feel if you slide your hand down your tummy from your belly button). They attach at the back to your tail bone (which is the very last bit of bone you can feel at the base of your spine, or near your butt hole). At the sides, it attaches to your sit bones. Have a look at the picture below to give yourself more of an idea.
How to exercise your Pelvic Floor...
How to we get this very very very important pelvic floor to work? Here's a few tricks:
We’ve surely all been in the situation before, where you feel a bit gassy, a bit bloated, perhaps you’ve eaten something a bit dodgy, whatever the reason - you really need to fart. But, you’re in a public area, and you’ll be mortified if people know it was you, so you hold on to that fart as tightly as you can…
How do you do that?
Think about it now, imagine yourself trying to stop that terrible gas from exiting your body…. What are you doing? You’re squeezing, or tightening, or clenching, the muscles around your ‘back passage’, or butt hole. And if you can do that, then well done, you are one step closer to feeling confident with pelvic floor exercises!
Now, Step 2. Imagine you are sitting on the toilet, emptying your bladder, or "having a wee". You are only midway through your wee, and you hear a noise from the kitchen. Is that your phone ringing? Is that the important call you’ve been waiting for? You’re not sure you can actually hear it, so you ‘stop’ your wee, or hold it, to let you listen more carefully. Can you imagine yourself doing that? Give it a go, right now. And what have you done - you’ve squeezed the ‘front’ of your pelvic floor!
OK, now can you try and do these two things, starting at the ‘back passage’, or butt hole, and moving forwards to squeezing around the front section, around your wee hole, and ‘hold’ both of these contractions? Good. But are you breathing? Are you clenching your teeth? Are your shoulders about to touch your ears? Umm… If any of these things are happening, which is very very common, try to let them go. You are aiming to train your muscles to be able to ‘work’ the pelvic floor area, while the rest of the body remains relaxed, and you can breathe. Often, once you start to ‘breathe’, you’ll feel like your pelvic floor just totally lets go - don't worry, that’s normal. It happens to the best of us when we are only learning to contract our pelvic floor. With practice, you’ll get much better at this.
So hopefully, you now feel a bit more confident with 'switching on' your pelvic floor. You can now have a practice tensing/switching on/tightening these muscles. Keep in mind though, it's also really important that you can ‘relax’ them too. This is just as important as being able to get them to contract in the first place. So once you've practiced switching on, let all these muscles ‘go’, and have a rest.
“But what if i still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing?”
Ok, so for those of you who still feel a bit lost, or feel unsure if your pelvic floor is doing anything at all, try this:
- Lie on your side, with your knees bent up.
- Rest your fingertips in the space between your sit bones, your pubic bone, and your tail bone.
- Keep your fingers pressed firmly on that area, as you ‘contract’ or try to lift your pelvic floor muscles up and in, like we talked about above.
- Try to imagine you are pulling those 4 boney landmarks together - your sit bones, pubic bone and tail bone.
- You should feel a slight tensing or pressure change under your fingers. It shouldn't feel like a strong pressure pushing down on your fingertips, but rather a slight tensing.
- Now, see if you can hold that, whilst you breathe and relax the rest of the body.
This is how we switch on our Pelvic Floor!
Part 2 of our Exercise In Pregnancy guide from Physiotherapist & Clinical Pilates Instructor Emma Powell
Exercise in Pregnancy: To Do, or Not To Do? This blog post by our physio Emma will answer all your exercise related questions.
Find out what you need to know, before you start Pilates at body BE good, here in sunny Ballarat